63rd House candidates talk cutting spending, creating jobs
Candidates vying for the 63rd House District seat in November cite cutting spending, passing a budget and resolving the state pension crisis among their top priorities.
Democrat John Bartman of Marengo faces Republican Steven Reick of Harvard Nov. 8.
The seat is being vacated by longtime incumbent state Rep. Jack Franks, a Democrat from Marengo, who has served 18 years in the legislature. Franks dropped out of the race after the March primary, in which he ran unopposed, citing dysfunction in state government. He is running instead to become McHenry County Board's first elected chairman and faces Republican county board member Michael Walkup of Crystal Lake.
Franks' departure could give Republicans a shot at shrinking Democrats' majority in the General Assembly.
Bartman, a farmer and longtime friend of Franks, has served on the McHenry County Farm Bureau board for 10 years, worked for the Illinois Department of Transportation for 12 years, and served as chairman of the Democratic Party of McHenry County.
Reick, a tax attorney, won handily in the primary beating Jeffery Lichte, of McHenry, a member of Franks' 2015 fundraising host committee.
Bartman said there is a need for serious leadership in Springfield and lawmakers from both parties need to set aside their egos to reach a compromise on critical issues.
Bartman advocates cutting spending by 10 percent at all layers of state government.
"Being in IDOT for 12 years, I have seen firsthand a lot of stupid and chronic spending," he said.
Having served on Gov. Bruce Rauner's Green Governments Coordinating Council, Bartman calls for planting and cultivating switch grass and rapeseed (canola oil), which can be used for biofuels, along the right-of-ways of state highways. State law now requires the state's vehicle fleet to use flex-fuel -- gasoline, ethanol or a combination of the two. It could benefit the downstate region as a supplement for propane, he added.
"It will take some time to make this conversion," Bartman said. "These great projects are on hold. They are going to transform the state and make a ton of money for the state."
Bartman also calls for closing corporate tax loopholes and ending tax credits for companies to keep them here.
"We have a marketing problem in Illinois right now," he said, adding once the state budget crisis is fixed, businesses will flock here.
Reick, who ran against Franks in 2014 and lost, said Illinois needs to get its spending under control to match revenues.
"Obviously, we can't do it through court order," he said. "We need a budget. We need to find a way to carve the underfunded portion of the pensions out of our budget and create a capital fund for it. The pension underfunding is working like an aneurysm on our budget."
He also believes getting the budget under control will bring jobs back, but advocates doing it without increasing taxes or using gimmicks such as "borrowing money and calling it revenue." He favors growing the tax base by bringing more businesses to the state.
Reick advocates bolstering the state's manufacturing industry and shifting more of the tax burden onto other growing business sectors, while keeping it "revenue neutral."
"Our tax structure is based upon when Illinois was a manufacturing powerhouse," he said. "We need to examine what businesses are thriving in Illinois."
He also opposes granting tax breaks or subsidies for industries as companies just swallow the incentives and move on. "It leads to a race to the bottom," he said.
The 63rd District includes all or parts of Alden, Greenwood, Harvard, Hebron, Johnsburg, Marengo, McCullom Lake, McHenry, Pistakee Highlands, Richmond, Ringwood, Union, Wonder Lake and Woodstock.